Big SUVs are known for being safe on the road, and for carrying a big group of people. They’re also well known for guzzling gas and being pretty heavy.One thing they tend to not be known for is off-road capability. This is probably due to the manufacturers designing vehicles for on-road comfort first and foremost. I can’t say as I blame them, I mean, after all, the vehicle is going to spend the majority of its time hitting the pavement. You’d expect it to ride smoothly there, right? Of course you would. When the Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro was added to the lineup, we took notice.
The unit we tested was a 2020 version. The 2021 model is no different really, other than the special edition color. Our test Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro was the Army Green. For 2021 they used Lunar Rock as the special color. Both are pretty cool and attract attention. To be all honest, I didn’t like the green at first. It needed a little more black mixed in to break up the massive amount of green. It grew on me, though, and by the end of the test I was sad to see it leave. I still think some rally stripes down the center and some additional flat black TRD PRO badging would make it pop, but hey…
I’m going to tell you right up front that I’m not going to go into detail about all the little features and do-dads that come over from the luxury side of the Sequoia. For the off-road and outdoor crowd, if you need to know about auto-dimming headlights, or the climate zones, you can rest easy – the TRD PRO has all that. The bolstered TRD PRO leather seats are extremely supportive and comfortable. They adjust a bunch of different ways and are heated, which made the wife very happy. She likes a warm butt. The second row seating in our unit came from two captains chairs, also leather. The kids both said it was extremely comfortable with lots of room for them to move around and not feel cramped. The third row seats fold down for cargo space, and share the same leather as the rest. A big importance to all were the ample cup holders that securely held your drink of choice. They will hold big things, too, like a Yeti cup. I like my morning coffee, and my afternoon coffee and that means a full Yeti that I don’t want spilled. Cup holders – Big time stuff here.
Controls in the Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro are all right at an easily reachable distance for the driver. Toyota’s touch screen display is on the small side compared to the competition, though, and the buttons around it can be pretty hard to see if the lighting is wrong. Oddly enough, I’ve driven several other Toyotas and they have much better touch screen systems. This is definitely one area that needs an update from the manufacturer.
I didn’t think Toyota would be super happy with me if I went out and bombed down a bunch of local trails with their $65,000+ machine, but I did it anyway. Somehow I didn’t scratch it, but I can’t figure out how. One of the biggest selling points to me for the TRD PRO package is the suspension system. Toyota equipped the Sequoia with piggyback reservoir Fox shocks and fully-independent dual wishbone suspension. It gives the machine great trail manners for a big SUV. There is enough stiffness to them that cornering is pretty darn good, and yet they have enough give to allow for a smooth ride over rougher terrain. I know of a dirt road not far from my house that has a two-mile long stretch of some of the worst chatter bumps I’ve ever encountered. I started off relatively slow and increased speed as I went for several passes. The Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro tracked straight even past 65mph and while you felt the bumps enough to know they were there, the shocks absorbed much of the nastiness that chatter bumps are known for. This is important for a big SUV, too. That’s a lot of weight to start swapping around should you get loose. You don’t want that!
I did have to avoid the mud, not so much because I was afraid of it, but I kinda was. The Sequoia came with 18-in. Black BBS 112 forged-aluminum TRD Pro alloy wheels with P275/65R18 tires, but I have to assume that since most reviewers would be sticking to pavement, the SUV came with tires best suited to pavement. I get it. They’d give the best fuel economy and the smoothest ride on the road. I would have preferred something a little better, like some Toyo Open Country A/T IIIs or B/F Goodrich AT KR2s. In other words, a nice all-terrain type tire that will still have good road manners.
Power is not a problem, as the Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro has the 5.7 liter V8 with 381hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy was pretty good. I experienced 18 to even 20mpg, which surprised me. Special TRD PRO dual cat-back exhaust makes the Sequoia sound good, but it isn’t too loud. In fact, it is much quieter than the same version of the Tundra.
Handling is quite good, too. The steering is light and responsive, and the Sequoia has the tightest turning radius I’ve ever experienced in a full-size SUV. This is a seriously cool thing when you’re off road, as it’ll help get the big machine through tighter trails.
Other things you will want to know
When you are on the pavement, the Sequoia really shines. The advanced suspension system helps the big machine grip the road, so it feels very sporty. The engine has some nice punch to it, making it a lot of fun to drive. It doesn’t handle like a big SUV on the road.
Comfort factor is a big plus too. The leather seats in the Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro are adjustable and ventilated with heat and air. This is good for longer road trips, like if you’re using the rig to haul your SxS to the dunes. There is ample cargo room with the third row folded flat. Not so much room when you have a full car, however.
Part of the TRD PRO package are Rigid fog lights that look sweet and work very well. It’s a pretty cool feature to see an OEM add a part that many would swap out to get. There is also a beefy steel-tube roof rack that can handle some serious cargo, so for you who are into overlanding, the big Toyota is a viable option when you need the space.
The Toyota Sequoia TRD PRO is a big SUV that doesn’t handle like a big SUV. It’s a seriously viable option for someone looking for an off-road capable, full-sized SUV. It is currently the only full-sized SUV that comes from the OEM with an off-road capable package. Hopefully it encourages more companies to follow suit.
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